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​From the Dome to Your Home

The Senate and House of Representatives met in regular session this week. Both Senate and House members worked through bills on the calendar. The House of Representatives plans to debate the budget beginning March 22. The House also plans to furlough the week of March 29.

Legislators continued to hold subcommittee and committee meetings both in-person and virtually. The House and Senate will be in session next week for regular business. 

More budget information from House Ways and Means Committee budget
Several additional items were included in the House Ways and Means Committee version of the budget that are important to cities and towns. 
  • In 2020, the General Assembly adopted Act 168, which established, but did not fund, a plan to provide a supplemental insurance policy for South Carolina firefighters diagnosed with cancer.  The House Ways and Means Committee’s proposed FY 2021 - 2022 budget, however, includes $3.7 million for the program. 
  • The Ways and Means Committee’s proposed budget also includes $500,000 in recurring funds for post-traumatic stress disorder treatment services for first responders. This is an item that has been included in the budget since 2016, but it was funded with non-recurring money. $250,000 is allocated to the SC Law Enforcement Assistance Program for police officers, and $250,000 is allocated to the SC First Responders Assistance and Support Team for firefighters. 
For questions on the budget, contact Joannie Nickel (jnickel@masc.sc) at 803.354.4794.

Tobacco bill passes out of subcommittee
H3681, the Tobacco Prevention Act, passed out of a House Judiciary subcommittee this week. This bill prohibits political subdivisions from enacting ordinances that pertain to the ingredients, flavors or licensing of cigarettes, e-cigarettes, e-liquid, vapor, tobacco products or alternative nicotine products. The bill also pre-empts local governments from regulating tobacco-related businesses through zoning or business licensing. An amendment was adopted in subcommittee that preserves ordinances regulating tobacco-related businesses passed prior to December 31, 2020.  

Next, the bill goes to the House Judiciary Committee for debate. Please call your House members and tell them that this bill will preempt any future zoning ability by cities and towns to regulate tobacco-related businesses. 

For questions on this bill, contact Scott Slatton (sslatton@masc.sc) at 803.933.1203

Tort reform passes the Senate
The Senate passed S82, the bill that increases the limits on liability from a loss to one person arising from a single occurrence to $500,000 and the total limits from a loss arising out of a single occurrence to $1 million. An amendment was adopted that clarifies that a judgment can be offered that exceeds the cap. Next, the bill goes to the House of Representatives for debate.

For questions on this bill, contact Scott Slatton (sslatton@masc.sc) at 803.933.1203.

Home-based food production bill passes the Senate without preemption language
S506, a bill that preempts local governments from prohibiting or regulating home-based food production operations and sales, was amended and passed by the Senate this week. The amendment allows local governments to enact ordinances to regulate home food production. Senators recognized the need for cities, towns and counties to maintain the ability to regulate and zone these businesses. Next, the bill goes to the House of Representatives for debate. 

For questions on S506, contact Joannie Nickel (jnickel@masc.sc) at 803.354.4794.

Senate Judiciary Committee adopts workers’ compensation bill
The Senate Judiciary Committee approved S94, a bill that excludes certain limitations on workers’ compensation for a first responder diagnosed with PTSD. The full committee adopted the subcommittee amendment to the bill that defines PTSD diagnosis standards and the specific circumstances that constitute a “significant traumatic experience or situation.” The bill is now on the Senate calendar for debate by the full Senate.

For questions on S94, contact Scott Slatton (sslatton@masc.sc) at 803.933.1203.

Municipal parking bill remains on the Senate calendar
S40, sponsored by Sen. Larry Grooms (R-Berkeley), prohibits a municipality from altering or establishing parking facilities on any state highway without the SC Department of Transportation's prior approval. Sens. Sean Bennett (R-Dorchester) and Brad Hutto (D-Orangeburg) are opposing the bill, keeping it on the Senate contested calendar for now. However, the SC Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Office has requested information about the fiscal impact the bill would have on parking systems operated by barrier island communities.

For questions about this bill, contact Scott Slatton (sslatton@masc.sc) at 803.933.1203. 

Stay in Touch
The Municipal Association legislative team is on Twitter. Follow Scott Slatton (@ScottMuniSC), Joannie Nickel (@JoannieMuniSC) and Erica Wright (@EricaMuniSC) for updates from the State House. Also follow the Association at @MuniAssnSC